Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Have You Ever Misplaced a Child?

It finally happened to me. I can laugh about it now - in fact, I was laughing about it a few minutes after the fact, but at the time, it wasn't so funny. It's interesting how that 'heart-in-your-throat' feeling goes hand in hand with 'brain paralysis.' (Wow, that's a lot of body metaphors.)

Here's a little background info:

* missing kid was Son #2
* he's 11
* he was exactly where he said he'd be.

Son #2 asked if he could go to a neighbor's house to play (I'll call the neighbor "J"). Sure, I say, just check back in a half hour because Son #3 might want to play too after he's finished his homework.

Son #2 doesn't come back for Son #3. I didn't think too much of it. I figured Son #2 and J were having fun and lost track of time. Besides, Son #3 was occupied with something else and didn't seem interested in playing with them.

Dear Hubby and I had an important meeting to attend which required our leaving the house at 6:00 p.m. We fixed dinner early. I ask Son #1 to go fetch Son #2, but Son #3 volunteers instead.

Son #3 returns home upset because no one answered when he knocked on J's door and another neighbor kid (I'll call him "T") said to Son #3, "Oh, they're not home. I saw them drive off."

Dear Hubby and I go outside and sure enough, no car at J's house. Did we go knock ourselves? Noooooooo. That would've been too easy. Dear Hubby is annoyed because he's concerned we're going to be late for the meeting. He speculates that maybe Son #2 went to his cousin's house two blocks away. Did it occur to him to call the cousin's house? Nooooooo. Again, that would be too easy.

I'm upset because - hello??? I don't know where my kid is! I ask the neighbor across the street (hasn't seen him). I knock on another neighbor's door (no answer). I try another neighbor's house (not there).

While I'm knocking on the neighbor's door, Dear Hubby is marching to his sister's house to see is Son #2 is there playing with the cousin. Because I had my cell phone in hand - and because it DID occur to me to call - I already had the answer before Dear Hubby knocked on their door. (They haven't seen him.)

Meanwhile, Son #1 is standing in the front yard on the verge of tears screaming his brother's name.

I'm thisclose to becoming frantic, when cooler heads prevailed - in this case, the neighbor from across the street. He and his wife are veterans at misplacing kids (kidding ... sort of). He goes to J's house and knocks on the door. He knocks harder than my six year old, apparently. J opens the door and sure enough, there's Son #2. Right where he said he'd be.

My husband and I have three college degrees between the two of us. Why didn't we think of knocking on the door ourselves?

I can't fault Son #3 - he did knock on the door. I certainly can't ground Son #2 - he was exactly where he was supposed to be. He has, however, been warned that he *will* be grounded for a month if he continues laughing at his mom and dad.

Child: found
Credibility: lost



Nadine said...

Oh you poor thing. It's a good thing you can laugh about it now. I tell you that nothing is more terrifying than not knowing where your child is.

One time at the zoo we thought our son was right next to us to discover he wasn't. We traced our steps and there he was. He was only 3 and the heart in throat happens fast. We found him in less than 2 minutes, but it felt like an hour.

Sue said...

At least you're already laughing about it!

Clare "forgot" she was to go to the after school program last Wed, and spent the afternoon touring the town on the bus....Sigh - no wonder we all get grey hair!

Elle*Bee said...

True, nadine, it's a very scary feeling. No age is immune from danger, but at 11, one hopes that all the safety messages you drilled into his little heads stick so that they're a bit less vulnerable.

Oh my goodness, sue, you must've been frantic!

Tracey said...

:) THAT is a riot!!